App Stores Overwhelmed with Health Apps Offering Snake Oil Promises

A recent review of 1,500 for-profit health apps reveals a significant problem related to the integrity of mobile health apps marketplace. Of 1,500 apps reviewed in the study, 331 claimed to treat or cure a medical problem. These Apps leveraged a variety of on-board instruments to substantiate these claims, from emanating sounds, to vibrations and even light therapy from the camera flash.

Mobile Health app growth has stagnated over the past three years, despite smartphone proliferation and a steady increase of available health apps. The FCC and FDA have both recently pushed for an expanded government role in mobile health app oversight and regulation, citing a promising future for mHealth technology but expressing concern unless the items being sold are held to established medical guidelines.

The FCC has released an mHealth Road Map in response to growing concern over the use of apps in the healthcare setting.

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